Hepatitis C is a common liver disease, caused by infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV). Hepatitis C virus is also responsible for causing many other liver diseases, such as hepatic fibrosis, complicated cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although in the last years modern medicine has taken measures for preventing the transmission of hepatitis C virus, there are still many new annual worldwide cases of infection with HCV. Although direct contact with infected blood is considered to be the main cause of hepatitis C transmission, it seems that there are many other risk factors in contracting hepatitis C virus. Prior to 1992, when there were no effective means of screening the donated blood from infectious agents, blood transfusion was the main cause of hepatitis C transmission. The risk of hepatitis C transmission through blood transfusions has considerably decreased since 1992, as new effective methods of verifying the donated blood became available.
Nowadays, the main cause of hepatitis C transmission is considered to be the inadequate use of needles and syringes. Inappropriately sterilized medical items that enter in direct contact with patients’ blood (during surgical interventions) are also considered to be a common means of hepatitis C transmission nowadays. Drug addicts that commonly share needles and syringes are also very exposed to contracting hepatitis C virus. Therefore, drug injection is an important risk factor in hepatitis C transmission. As indicated by statistics, intravenous drug use accounts for around 50 percent of overall cases of hepatitis C transmission. Statistics also reveal that intra-nasal drug use (especially cocaine) accounts for around 5-10 percent of overall cases of hepatitis C transmission.
Sexual promiscuity is yet another risk factor of hepatitis C transmission. Lack of sexual protection and frequent change of sexual partners considerably increase the risks of contracting hepatitis C virus. Statistics indicate that unprotected sexual intercourse accounts for around 15 percent of overall cases of hepatitis C transmission. Despite this fact, it is very important to note that hepatitis C transmission through body secretions isn’t always possible. Although hepatitis C virus can be sexually transmitted due to exchange of body fluids, not all body secretions can transmit this type of virus. For instance, even if the presence of hepatitis C virus can be revealed in saliva or tears, these body secretions can’t spread the infection to other people.
In many cases, the cause of hepatitis C transmission remains unknown. In more than 10 percent of hepatitis C cases, the actual causes of the infection can’t be clarified. A very interesting fact regarding hepatitis C is related to alcoholics. Although there are no connections at this time between alcohol abuse and infection with hepatitis C virus, it seems that alcoholics are very exposed to contracting HCV.
The forms of hepatitis C transmission are various and therefore it is very important to take extra precautions in order to prevent the development of infections with hepatitis C virus.